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What is the Cost of Living in UAE?

Updated on 08 November, 2023

Bulbul Sharma

Bulbul Sharma

Manager- Content @upGrad

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) can be rightfully called a man made wonder. This country comprising 22 cities, is also home to several manmade islands such as the Universe Archipelagos, the World, and Palm Jumeirah Island. 

About 85% of the populace lives in the cities. With only a few rural areas, such as Al Hayl, Al Badiyah, Al Khari, and Al Bitnah, UAE is overwhelmingly urban. 


Besides sharing an excellent liking for exotic pets, luxurious cars, gold embellishments, and all things gourmet, the people of UAE are also known for their love for education. The country has one of the highest literacy rates among men and women – 96%! 

However, all students applying to courses in UAE start with a common question – what is the minimum cost of living in UAE?

In general, the cost of living in UAE for international students will largely depend upon the university as well as the area of the dwelling. 

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UAE Top universities 

The table below lists the top 10 universities to study in UAE –

Name of the UniversityQS WUR 2023
United Arab Emirates University296
Zayed University701 -750
University of Sharjah601 – 650
American University of Sharjah369
Ajman University651 – 700
Khalifa University181
Abu Dhabi University651 – 700
Canadian University Dubai541 – 550
Dubai University College801 – 1000
American University in Dubai651 – 700

Cost of Attendance As Per Course Level 

The cost of attendance in the UAE includes college tuition, books, and service fees. This cost will largely depend upon the city as expensive cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi will bring a high cost of attendance as compared to affordable ones like Ajman and Rasal Khama. 

Given below is the breakdown for each of the top universities –

Name of the UniversityUG Course Fee PG Course Fee PhD Course FeeStudent Housing
United Arab Emirates University1,900 AED – 3,000 AED per credit hour1,600 AED – 2,750 AED per credit hour1050 AED – 1,080 AED per credit hour5,600 AED per semester
University of Sharjah42,000 AED – 118,300 AED annually3,045 AED per credit hour 6,090 AED per credit hour3,428 AED – 17,714 AED
Zayed University2,500 AED per credit hour2,333 AED – 4,267 AEDNo PhD courses offered1,625 AED – 3,000 AED monthly
American University of Sharjah100,940 AED annually119,400 AED – 164,670 AED annually269,460 AED – 299,400 AED annually4,000 AED – 34,460 AED
Ajman University1,125 AED – 2,750 AED per credit hour2,000 AED – 4,500 AED per credit hour1,405 AED – 4,510 AED per semester
Khalifa University3,333 AED per credit hour5,000 AED per credit hour6,666 AED per credit hour20,000 AED per semester
Abu Dhabi University21,600 AED – 30,260 AED per semester8,640 AED – 27,720 AED per semesterNo PhD courses offered8,700 AED – 16,300 AED per term
Canadian University Dubai68,386 AED annually 97,104 AED annually No PhD courses offered1,070 AED – 4,014 AED per month
Dubai University CollegeFee not availableFee not available Fee not availableNo rent available
American University in Dubai1,600 AED – 12,500 AED per semester4,284 AED per credit – 225,000 AED per programNo PhD courses offered

8,500 AED – Fall and Spring semester each for shared occupancy, 12,500 AED for single


5,700 AED for Summer I and II sessions (shared occupancy), 8,500 AED for single 

Fee Range As Per Study level 

The students who wish to study abroad in the UAE will find their college tuition fees (and other fees) the most affordable based on the city they choose to study. Dubai and Abu Dhabi will be expensive, wherein the undergraduate course fee can range anywhere from 37,500 AED to 70,000 AED. 

Cities in UAE with low costs of living, such as Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Al Ain, Ajman, and Sharjah, offer colleges that charge lower fees. The undergraduate course fee can range between 19,000 AED and 28,600 AED. 

Similarly, postgraduate course fees in expensive cities can range between 55,000 AED and 75,000 AED annually. In affordable cities like Rasal Khama, the same will range between 12,500 AED to 45,000 AED. 

As for Doctoral courses, the fee range in Dubai extends between 129,000 AED and 360,000 AED. The same in other cities would be anywhere from 50,000 AED to 70,000 AED. 

Rent Range 

What is the minimum cost of living in UAE? It all starts with the rent. Since the country has some sought-after cities, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, housing is not challenging to find. However, these areas can be expensive. 

The rent range will mainly depend upon the chosen city as well as the housing type. The country offers everything – from high-rise apartments to townhouses and villas in gated complexes. Rental contracts across the country last for a year and incur heavy fines if broken. 

On average, the cost of living in UAE for Indian students in terms of rent can be seen in the table below 

Housing TypeRent Range (in AED per month)
One-bedroom apartment2,500 – 6,500
Two-bedroom apartment4,500 – 10,000
Three-bedroom apartment10,000 – 20,000
Villa6,250 – 15,000
Townhouse 7,000 – 20,000


Another factor that impacts the average cost of living in UAE is utility bills. These will largely depend upon the type of accommodation as well as the rental contract. 

Even regarding utilities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi come across as the two most expensive UAE cities. The utility bill will include electricity, water connection, television, internet package, and smartphone plans. 

On average, monthly utilities can cost anywhere between AED 800 and AED 1200. The charges may differ between summer and winter months due to AC usage. Again, mobile plans and entertainment channels will change the average monthly costs. 

This cost of living in UAE for a family will be further different (higher). 

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The cost of studying in UAE also includes costs of books, both purchased through the university and otherwise. Depending on the university, formal learning books may cost between 1000 AED and 1,800 AED. 

For reference, self-help, and other kinds of books, students can scour through brick-and-mortar stores, online marketplaces, etc. There are even second-hand bookstores, such as Dubizzle and House of Prose, where students may find paperback versions at discounted prices. 

Some books sell at 55% of the retail price! The country also houses several knowledge-packed libraries where books can be easily exchanged. Some top libraries include The Old Library, Al Bahia Park Library, Zayed Central Library, and Sharjah Public Library. 


Students who study in the UAE are likely to travel via a public mode of transport. The country has various public transportation facilities to offer. These include metro, tram, public buses, taxis, and ride-hailing apps. 

Students can travel using a singular mode of transport or switch between modes. For instance – completing half the commute via public bus and switching to metro or tram. All public transport tickets can be paid using the NOL card – a contactless smart card. 

There are different kinds of NOL cards available. The public transport fares depend upon the journey length and the type of card used. These are mentioned in further detail below –

Length of JourneyType of CardCommute Fare (in AED)
Within One Zone Gold Card6
 Silver Card3
 Personal Card3
 Red Ticket4
In Two Adjacent ZonesGold Card10
 Silver Card5
 Personal Card5
 Red Ticket6
More Than Two ZonesGold Card15
 Silver Card7.5
 Personal Card7.5
 Red Ticket8.5

Frequent commuters benefit through a personal NOL Card, which offers 50% discounts on fares to senior citizens and students. 

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Bulbul Sharma

Manager- Content @upGrad

Bulbul is a self-driven professional and an expert writer & editor. She has been a part of the ed-tech industry for the past 2 years now and is motivated to provide study abroad aspirants with factually correct and relevant information. Her knack for impactful writing makes her blogs worth a read!

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